Tiny update is tiny.
Spock won the chess game. Kirk didn't mind as he was exhausted. Again. But it wasn't the exhausted of the last few days. It wasn't the bone-weary, entrenched fatigue that had previously plagued him so.
This was the pleasant, deserved tiredness of a long day and a job well done.
Kirk almost didn't resent it.
And this time, at least, Spock didn't underestimate him.
They talked very little, both keeping their minds on the game. But the silence was comfortable, not stilted, as he'd been expecting it to be.
The fact of the matter was, Kirk kept expecting Spock to ask about Tarsus, to be intrusive in the way that everyone always was. From interfering busybody reporters to well-meaning therapists. Everyone wanted him to fucking talk about it.
Everybody always wanted you to talk
He kept waiting for Spock to ask.
But the game wore on, and Spock didn't ask.
And gradually, without even noticing how, Kirk found that he was smiling. And that his mood had lifted.
He smiled at the floor.
Spock must have noticed, too, because he said, "Captain?"
Kirk shook his head, smiling. "It's nothing, Spock."
Spock quirked an eyebrow. "Indeed."
Kirk laughed softly to himself. "Just…been a better day than I thought it would." He shook his head gently.
He waited for the inevitable questions about his day, but they never came. Spock merely nodded.
Spock, it seemed, was a quiet creature.
Kirk laughed again to himself, shaking his head gently as he considered his next move. He studied the board and realized that he'd had strategy in mind and had more or less been moving pieces at random.
That was okay.
Spock, however, was profoundly observant. "Captain, your mind is not on the game."
Kirk smiled. "No, no, it isn't, Mr. Spock."
Spock nodded. "I believe that normal human custom requires that I ask you about the subject with which you are preoccupied."
Kirk had to await a second for that to translate.
"You want to know that I was thinking?" he asked incredulously.
Seriously. It wasn't like the Vulcan could care about his musings.
"You are an exceptional player, Jim. Upon our last match together you were a challenge to me. This time you are not. You have not encountered a significant brain injury, nor are you more tired now than you were then. Your mind is not on the game. Therefore something has distracted you. As none of your symptoms have worsened and the ships status has, in fact, improved, I find myself…curious as to what is distracting you."
Kirk thought about that for a moment. "Tactfully said, as always Mr Spock. Tactfully said."
Spock lifted an eye brow at him.
Kirk wasn't sure that he could voice it, exactly. "It's been a long day, Spock. But a good day, despite all the expectations to the contrary." He paused, unsure how to go on.
"I just…I haven't had a day like this in a while. All day I kept expecting the other shoe to drop, for something huge to go wrong, and all day it didn't. I just can't help thinking that somehow…." Kirk trailed off, not knowing how to go on.
"You find yourself expecting something bad to happen, despite all evidence that nothing will?" Spock raised an eyebrow.
"That's how it always has gone. Something in my life starts going well, and something else falls suddenly and inexplicably to shit." Kirk sighed. He was beginning to feel quite exhausted again.
He looked at the board, and considered just tipping his king. There was no way that he could win now.
But it just wasn't in him to surrender without a fight.
He squared his shoulders and settled in to fight it out.
"Curious." Spock said.
"What's curious?" Kirk asked.
Spock hesitated before speaking. "I am merely remarking on something Dr. McCoy said to me while we were studying your medical records."
It was Kirk's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Oh?" He was instantly suspicious.
Spock nodded. "You truly do have two sides. You wear your arrogance for all to see in order to protect yourself from those that do not know you. You seem to prefer that others judge this facade rather than risk that they see and judge the real you."
Kirk swallowed. He broke eye contact and looked at the floor, as he felt his cheeks go hot. He pursed his lips. He didn't know if he should be angry or not. He didn't know if he was insulted or not.
But Spock continued despite his discomfort. "I made this mistake myself, at your hearing. I assumed that your defensiveness was, in fact arrogance. It was not."
Shit. Was Spock trying to apologize?!
Spock was trying to apologize.
Kirk cleared his throat to stall for time.
Spock touched his arm. "Jim."
Kirk looked up.
"I do not know who long ago convinced you that you were not good enough, but they were wrong. I have not found you wanting."
Again, Kirk swallowed past the lump in his throat as his eyes misted a bit. He couldn't look at Spock.
Kirk tried to smile. "McCoy told you all that, huh?"
"He did not. He merely suggested that I look deeper when evaluating you."
Kirk nodded. Sounded a little vague for Bones actually. McCoy didn't usually beat around the bush. He usually came right out and told you you were being a stupid jackass.
Spock went on. "You evaluated your position on the board, and determined that as your mind had not been on the game, you could not win. While you are clearly recovering from your fatigue, you are also obviously tired and distracted. And yet you squared your shoulders to continue playing. You do not have to. I will not think less of you."
Just for a moment, Kirk couldn't breathe.
This was always the hardest thing for him. Trust and honest praise.
He swallowed again, idly wondering if the lump in his throat could get any bigger.
He had always hated to show weakness. Always.
It left too many people too many opportunities to take advantage of you.
He thought of older Spock. Of the world that could be.
Of the friendship that could be.
Of the sense of family they could have.
Trust went both ways, didn't it?
"Okay, Mr. Spock. Okay," Kirk said, and then he smiled.
He shook his head.
Here goes nothing….
He tipped his king.
Not interested in negative feedback or constructive criticism at this time. I'm getting over EPIC writer's block and I don't need the negativity.